Take 3: Amazing Grace and Chuck Review (Atticus and Boo Double Feature Part 2)

As I stated in my review of The Terry Fox Story, I chose to review two movies for the Atticus and Boo Blogathon; one from Gregory Peck’s filmography and one from Robert Duvall’s filmography. Both films were released in the ‘80s and they both have something to do with athletics. In the second part of this double feature, I’ll be writing about the 1987 movie, Amazing Grace and Chuck! This is a movie I had not heard about until this year. However, I found the concept of an athlete giving up their sport because of their views on nuclear weapons interesting. I also thought it would be interesting to see Gregory Peck portray a fictional President. As you may know, I enjoy finding movies that are “hidden gems”. Because Amazing Grace and Chuck is an ‘80s film that has, more often than not, flown under the radar, I took advantage of the opportunity to talk about it on 18 Cinema Lane!

Amazing Grace and Chuck poster created by TriStar Pictures.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Like my review of The Terry Fox Story, I will talk about Gregory Peck’s performance first. I liked seeing his portrayal of the President, even though he was in the film for a short amount of time. The same professionalism Gregory brought to his role in To Kill a Mockingbird could be seen in Amazing Grace and Chuck! Not only that, but he also carried himself in a classy manner. Another stand-out performance came from Joshua Zuehlke! In this movie, he did a good job showing what a child would likely experience when dealing with such a complicated topic. One of his best scenes was when Chuck’s father is telling his son about how their family’s lives have changed because of Chuck’s decision to walk away from baseball. While Joshua doesn’t say anything in this scene, his facial expressions of sadness and concern tell the audience everything they need to know. Over the course of the story, Chuck develops a friendship with a basketball athlete named Amazing Grace. This friendship shows that each cast member had good on-screen chemistry with one another and how good of an actor Alex English was in this movie! What made Amazing Grace a memorable character was Alex’s charisma. With a bright smile and an easy-going demeanor, Alex gave Amazing Grace a great on-screen personality that helped him be likable!

The scenery: A pleasant surprise in Amazing Grace and Chuck was the scenery! Most of the story takes place in Livingston, Montana. According to IMDB, parts of the movie were filmed in Livingston and Bozeman. The natural landscapes of the Treasure State take center stage when scenes take place outdoors. Mountains and hills proudly stand tall in the background. In a sweeping overhead shot, a color scheme of green and yellow with a splash of purple could be found in the foliage below. Before a nuclear weapon was shown on screen for the first time, a field represented the calm before the storm. Parts of this movie was also filmed in Boston, Massachusetts. In this particular location, there was some photogenic areas! One great example is when Lynn Taylor, Amazing Grace’s manager, is sitting on the side of a river. This spot presented a visual contrast to its city roots, promoting tranquility among the hustle and bustle of Boston.

An educational approach: When a real-life, debatable topic is featured in a film, both sides of the issue are presented. It can be interesting to see the various perspectives of any subject. But when a movie’s creative team makes this decision, they assume their audience is already educated on the film’s topic. In Amazing Grace and Chuck, the subject of nuclear weapons was introduced as Chuck and his classmates go on a field trip to see a missile. During the trip, facts were delivered to the children and the audience. However, it never felt like the tour guide was talking down to anyone. What it did instead was address the issue and show why it was important. When Chuck quits baseball, it simply shows someone expressing their beliefs. This presentational style is one that I don’t often see in films of this nature.

The Atticus and Boo Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room.

What I didn’t like about the film:

More telling than showing: Throughout the film, characters told one another how bad things were getting. However, the audience never got to see these things happening. In one scene, the President tells Chuck how there was a protest at a soccer game. He also tells Chuck there is an ice cream stand dedicated to him. The events are not shown on screen, so the audience is forced to take the characters’ word for it. If the audience were given the opportunity to see these events, it would have shown the magnitude of Chuck’s choice to quit baseball.

A whole lot of nothing: The story of Amazing Grace and Chuck revolves around two athletes who choose to quit their beloved sports until all nuclear weapons are dismantled. While this overarching conflict does get resolved, it doesn’t happen until the last ten to fifteen minutes of the movie. For the majority of the film, it seems like the characters are waiting for something for happen instead of actually trying to make things happen. The audience can see other athletes who have joined the cause making international calls. But this was one scene in an hour and fifty-four-minute movie. In fact, it feels like more emphasis was placed on Amazing Grace’s attempts to renovate a run-down barn than on the film’s overarching conflict.

Things happening too quickly: There are several times when things happened too quickly in Amazing Grace and Chuck. At one point in the story, Amazing Grace and Chuck are kidnapped by two football athletes. The moment itself happened suddenly with no forewarning or build-up. When it’s revealed these football athletes support Chuck’s cause, it is implied they personally know Amazing Grace. However, it is never explained how these athletes know the basketball star. Because of the lack of explanations, moments appear too quickly in the story with little to no context.

Military plane image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by brgfx – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

While watching Amazing Grace and Chuck, I could tell the film’s creative team had their hearts in the right place. At the same time, it seemed like their minds thought the film would make a bigger statement than it did. As I said in the introduction, this is a movie I hadn’t heard of until this year. It also doesn’t help when the characters seem like aren’t doing much to find a resolution to their conflict. Something that worked against this story’s favor was featuring a complicated topic that does not have an easy answer. Watching characters build their way toward a solution can be engaging to see. Throughout the movie, I felt like I was watching two separate movies that were loosely woven together. Chuck’s story and Amazing Grace’s story could have existed in their own universes; one about a child trying to make a difference in the world and the other about a superstar athlete choosing to remind himself of what is really important in life. There are two kinds of films from the past; those that stand the test of time and those that are a product of their time. Amazing Grace and Chuck, in this case, leans more toward the latter.

Overall score: 6 — 6.1 out of 10

What are your thoughts on this double feature? If you have seen Amazing Grace and Chuck or The Terry Fox Story, which film is your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Evenings At The Shore: We’ll be Right Back after these Realities

In an Evenings At The Shore post, I mentioned that, for the most part, Hallmark movies and television shows are modern day fairytales. However, Hallmark has, from time to time, incorporated pieces of realism into their productions. This has been done in order to give their audience something to relate to. On Chesapeake Shores, there is a large number of key characters within the show’s overall story. Because of this, fans and audience members can find a situation or moment that is relatable to them. As I’ve also mentioned in an Evenings At The Shore post, almost all of Hallmark’s movies and shows have a happy ending. This is meant to show viewers that when they put their minds to something, anything is possible. Let’s take a look at this episode re-cap for Chesapeake Shores!

Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of Chesapeake Shores, there may be spoilers within this re-cap.

Chespeake Shores Season 3 poster
Chesapeake Shores poster image created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=series&ShowTitle=Chesapeake%20Shores%20Season%203&episodeIndex=3001

Season: 3

Episode: 6

Name: Here and There

 

Trace’s story: Trace comes back to Chesapeake Shores after being on tour with his band. During his time back home, Trace learns that his father is planning on retiring and selling the bank. While discussing his father’s decision to retire, Trace reminds his dad that he was, sometimes, not emotionally present in Trace’s life. The next day, Trace and his band record some new music at a nearby recording studio. Just as they’re about the leave, one of the studio employees tells them that the computer with all their music crashed, meaning that everything on that computer was deleted. Because there were no other times available for the band to reschedule a recording session, Trace and his band had to re-record all of their music that same day. This meant that Trace had to cancel his plans to spend time with Abby and her daughters, so he immediately called Abby to let her know about the change in their plan. Later that day, Trace learns from Abby that Wes’ new girlfriend, Terri, is not only the author of her favorite blog, but that Wes plans on proposing to Terri. At dinner the next day, Carrie and Caitlyn ask Trace if he can go Snipe hunting with them. Trace declines their offer because he has a concert in Washington D.C. the following day. After Trace’s concert in D.C., he watches a video, on his phone, that Carrie and Caitlyn sent him of their Snipe hunting adventure. Trace realizes that by performing away from home, he’s missing out on these little yet significant moments. When Trace returns to The Bridge to discuss business negotiations with Mick, he asks Mick if he missed any moments from his children’s lives. Mick admits that he not only missed important moments from his children’s lives, he shares with Trace that he feels he mismanaged his time. Later that day, Trace visits his dad at the bank and helps him pack up his belongings. He surprises his dad with tickets to a Nationals baseball game and tells him that even though he doesn’t know a lot about parenting, he is willing to learn.

 

Abby’s story: During breakfast in the O’Brien household, Abby learns from her daughters, Carrie and Caitlyn, that Wes has been dating again. Surprised by this news, Abby tells Trace everything her daughters told her when she meets up with him at The Bridge. Trace reminds Abby to give Terri, Wes’ girlfriend, a chance and to not make any assumptions about her. The next day, Wes and Terri, as well as Terri’s daughter, come to Chesapeake Shores, giving Abby an opportunity to meet Terri. During a conversation between her, Terri, and Wes, Abby talked about her favorite blog and how it has influenced her life. When Terri leaves the conversation to check out Carrie and Caitlyn’s fairy garden, Wes confesses that Terri is the creator and author of Abby’s favorite blog. Wes also confesses that he plans on proposing to Terri. Abby not only plans a family dinner where she invites Wes and Terri, but after that dinner, she confesses to Megan that the situation itself is a good and bad thing. It’s a good thing because Carrie and Caitlyn have already accepted Terri in their lives, but it’s a bad thing because Abby feels like she’s being left out of the family picture. Megan tells Abby that when she left the O’Brien family and Abby and Nell chose to take care of the rest of the O’Brien children, Megan felt the same way then as Abby does now.

 

Mick’s story: Throughout this episode, Mick spends some quality time with Megan. They both reflect on their past and what was happened to them recently. Mick shares with Megan that his relationship with Connor is in a better place now than it was before. While Mick is looking back on all of these events, he starts to question how he has spent his time. When Trace asks him, during a business negotiation meeting at The Bridge, if he missed any moments from his children’s lives, Mick tells Trace that he has not only missed important moments from his children’s lives, those missed opportunities have made Mick question how he spends his time. After a family dinner, Mick and Megan continue to reflect on their past. By the end of the episode, both Mick and Megan agree to start letting the past go and start building a brighter future. Megan also joins Mick on a trip to his boat, making Mick happy that his boat crew gained a new member.

 

Megan’s story: In this episode, Megan and Mick spend some quality time together. During this time, they reflect on their past as well as their present. Megan tells Mick that she has, so far, enjoyed her new life in Chesapeake Shores. After a family dinner, when Abby shares her feelings about the situation surrounding Wes’ new girlfriend, Megan confesses to Abby that when she left the O’Brien family and Abby and Nell decided to take care of the rest of the O’Brien children, she felt the same way back then as Abby does now. Megan also continues to reflect on her past with Mick. By the end of this episode, both Megan and Mick agree to start leaving the past behind and moving forward toward the future. Megan also goes on a trip with Mick to his boat and becomes a new member of Mick’s boat crew.

Lots of hydrangeas, roses and pinks make a colorful wall
Bunch of flowers image created by V.ivash at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/landscape-bow-bouquet-gift-outdoor_1150128.htm’>Designed by V.ivash</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flower”>Flower image created by V.ivash – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Nell’s story: Nell participates in a flower arrangement competition. She suggests that Connor attend the event with her, with Connor agreeing to go after Nell tricks him into attending. At the competition, Nell interacts with Dorothy, a long-time winner of the contest. Dorothy acts like the prize has her name written all over it, which makes Nell suspicious. During this interaction, Connor takes pictures of Dorothy’s flower arrangement. Nell discovers that one of the flowers was not grown in the state of Maryland, which means that Dorothy has broken one of the competition’s rules. After this discovery is made, Nell encourages Connor to do more research about the situation. The next day, Nell finds out from Connor that Dorothy ordered the flower in question from outside the United States. Nell also learns that after her husband died, Dorothy’s finances and her place of residence have not been stable. These facts make Nell realize that winning, in Dorothy’s perspective, means more than trophies and recognition. On the day of the final results for the flower arrangement competition, Nell wins second place and Dorothy wins first place. Instead of revealing Dorothy as a cheater, Nell chooses to become Dorothy’s friend. Nell tells Dorothy that at the end of the day, friendship is more important than winning.

 

Bree’s story: Bree is continuing to edit her manuscripts. When she’s not doing that, she decides to spend time with Simon at Word Play. During an author showcase event that Bree organized, Bree discovers that Simon took an idea from her manuscript and put it  into his book. This makes Bree upset and Simon confused. When they talk about the situation the next day, Bree tells him that the specific idea that Simon took was a reflection on her life, so having her personal thoughts being incorporated into someone else’s book was something that Bree was not ok with. While he understands that he should have asked for Bree’s permission before putting that idea into his book, Simon feels that writing is about taking inspiration from the world around you. Simon then tells Bree that she and her writing have been an inspiration to him and that he enjoys spending time with Bree. After a family dinner at the O’Brien home, Bree and Simon question the seriousness of their relationship. They know their relationship is moving in a good direction, but they don’t what to call it. The next day, Simon tells Bree that he has to go to UCLA in order to give a presentation. Before he leaves, they kiss, which indicates to the audience that their relationship is still on good terms.

 

Kevin’s story: At the beginning of the episode, Kevin receives three EMT job offers. However, Kevin is more disappointed that none of these offers are close to home. Throughout this episode, Kevin works on rotation at the same firehouse where Sarah is employed. During his time at the firehouse, Kevin admits to Sarah that he enjoyed working there and that he was the happiest he has been in a long time. He shares his concerns with her about the potential of not being able to work close to home. He also wishes that he could work alongside Sarah.

 

Jess’ story: During David’s absence at the Inn, Jess discovers that she has gained a new sense of independence. However, this independence makes it difficult for David to make a meaningful contribution to the Inn. David suggests that him and Jess go on a dinner date, with Jess quickly agreeing to this plan. During this dinner date, Jess apologizes to David for leaving the Peck household the way she did. She explains to him that she didn’t like the way his parents treated her and she just wanted to speak her mind. David says that shortly after Jess left, David found out about the background search through Alexandra. David took Alexandra’s side on that issue and Alexandra became the new head of the family business. David explains that his relationship with his parents is now strained. After a family dinner at the O’Brien household, David tells Jess that he enjoys spending time with Jess’ family because he has more fun with them than with his own family. Toward the end of the episode, Jess and David come to an agreement of splitting up the responsibilities at the Inn.

 

Connor’s story: Connor ends up getting tricked by Nell into attending a flower arrangement competition. At the event, Nell makes Connor take pictures of the flower arrangement that was created by Dorothy, Nell’s biggest competitor. After Nell’s conversation with Dorothy, Connor shows Nell the pictures he took on his phone. Connor and Nell discover that one of the flowers in the arrangement was not grown in Maryland. This means that Dorothy broke one of the competition’s rules. Connor is then encouraged by Nell to do more research about the situation. The next day, Connor shares with Nell what he learned about Dorothy. He tells her that Dorothy did purchase the flower in question from outside the United States. He also tells Nell that after Dorothy’s husband died, her finances and her place of residence have not been stable. When the final results of the flower arrangement competition are revealed the following day, Nell ends up winning second place and Dorothy wins first place. Connor is shocked when he sees Nell take out her phone and appear as if she’s approaching the judge. However, Connor sees that Nell walks past the judge and straight toward Dorothy. He learns about Nell’s plan to become Dorothy’s friend and is impressed by Nell’s good sense of sportsmanship.

Baseball game illustration
Baseball game image created by Macrovector at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/baseball-game-illustration_2871359.htm’>Designed by Macrovector</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/man”>Man vector created by Macrovector – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Some thoughts to consider:

 

  • Nell’s story from this episode is, honestly, one of the best story-lines that Nell has ever been given on Chesapeake Shores! As I look back on this episode, I wonder if Dorothy will be hired at the Inn as the resident gardener? Since Connor mentioned that Dorothy’s finances and place of residence were not stable, working at the Inn could provide Dorothy with a stable income and a safe place to live. Dorothy could also apply her gardening/flower arrangement skills in a less competitive environment.

 

  • In an Evenings At The Shore post, I mentioned that Connor became somewhat unlikable within Chesapeake Shores’ first three episodes. Ever since Connor apologized to Kevin, I feel that Connor has gained some of that likability back. I liked Connor’s role in this episode and I hope Nell’s actions of kindness and good sportsmanship inspire Connor to help someone in need.

 

  • I like how Mick’s boat is slowly but surely helping to heal old wounds and bring the family back together. I don’t know if it was mentioned on Chesapeake Shores, but I wonder who gave Mick that boat and what their rationale for doing that was?

Starry night landscape with reeds
Evening view from the shore image created by 0melapics at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/landscape-in-a-swamp-at-night_1042860.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by 0melapics – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What did you think about this episode? How do you think things will turn out in the upcoming episodes? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun in Chesapeake Shores!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Darrow & Darrow: In the Key of Murder Review

With eight series currently in circulation, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has been very busy keeping fans on the edge on their seats, providing compelling mysteries that will keep viewers involved in each film’s story. One series in particular is Darrow & Darrow. After making its debut last year, Darrow & Darrow has quickly become an important component in the web of franchises from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. With memorable characters, a well-written script, and a good mystery, Darrow & Darrow won over my heart. As I was excited for the sequel, I was also disappointed when I found out  the next movie would be centered around a murder mystery. This is because the mystery involved in the first movie did not have any murders, going against the grain from other mystery series on Hallmark’s second network. Did this change in the series affect my enjoyment of the film? Find out in my review of Darrow & Darrow: In the Key of Murder!

Darrow &amp; Darrow 2 poster
Darrow & Darrow: In the Key of Murder poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=143&FeedBoxID=986&NodeID=307&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Darrow%20and%20Darrow%20In%20the%20Key%20of%20Murder&IsSeries=False

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: The cast in the Darrow & Darrow sequel was very strong! Everyone gave such great performances and complimented each other at the same time. The one cast member that impressed me the most in this movie was MacKenzie Porter. She did an excellent job not only with her acting performance, but with her singing performances as well! I also liked seeing Geoff Gustafson in a film outside of the Signed, Sealed, Delivered series because it allowed him to work with new material, keeping his acting performances interesting and entertaining. Geoff is a talented actor and it was good to see him in a role that is different from what most Hallmark fans are used to.

 

  • The mystery: Even though the sequel was a murder mystery (like most films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries), it was compelling and intriguing. With enough suspects and clues, it allowed viewers to solve the case alongside the protagonists. Also, the charm of the series was never lost amid the darkness of the crime.

 

  • The on-screen chemistry: Just like in the first Darrow & Darrow film, the on-screen chemistry between Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Tom Cavanagh was fantastic! Both Kimberly and Tom pulled off a great performance individually and as a pair. Their line delivery was spot-on and their portrayals of Claire and Miles truly appeared like their characters got along. I’m really looking forward to seeing where Claire and Miles’ relationship goes from here!

269703-P5H9WI-853
Magnifying glass image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/magnifying-glass-with-fingerprint-in-flat-style_2034684.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flat”>Flat vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • Some of the side stories: While the story of Joanna working on the pro bono case was well-written, I was not impressed with Lou’s story. It felt like a repeat from the first movie, where an exceptionally gifted young person (Lou in this case) is having difficulty relating to their peers. I also didn’t like the story amongst the other lawyers at the Darrow & Darrow law firm. To me, this and Lou’s story just didn’t have a big impact on the film’s overall story.

Little girl in baseball outfit
Baseball girl image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/little-girl-in-baseball-outfit_2204168.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Brgfx – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

This was a really good continuation in the series! I ended up liking this movie just as much as the first movie! Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has done an excellent job when creating a newer mystery series that feels different from the other series they offer. While the series is only about a year old, it has plenty of room to grow, as more stories are still waiting to be told. Hallmark has not made any announcements about a continuation in the Darrow & Darrow series, but I hope more movies get made in the near future! This series has only gotten better and I can’t wait to see where the direction of this series goes!

 

Overall score: 8-8.5 out of 10

 

Have you seen the Darrow & Darrow sequel? What you think about the Darrow & Darrow series? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen